Often, we are confronted with seemingly meaningless suffering in the world that we can’t understand. It could be poor circumstances at work, issues with loved ones, deteriorating health, unstable finances, or general dissatisfaction with our fulfillment in the world. Often, these challenges are out of our control, and it can feel like we were fated to suffer this way. Such a conclusion can bring about misery, and complaints about life. However, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche urges us to not respond in such a way, and instead change our perception of the world rather than the world itself when events are out of our control. This response is what Nietzsche dubs: “Amor Fati”. Which from Latin, means “Love of Fate” or “Love of One’s Fate”.
However, to understand Amor Fati, one must understand Nietzsche’s idea of Eternal Recurrence: a hypothetical thought experiment he illustrates in his book, The Gay (Joyous) Science). The idea behind this is to imagine that all worldly events repeat themselves exactly in the same sequence. From major to minor events and from good events to bad ones. Every penny dropped, every marriage that happened, to every thought that occurred.
The purpose of this is to make the present world infinitely important, along with all the decisions. There’s no escape from every choice that ruined your life, harmed someone you love, or brought happiness because it will all repeat indefinitely. It makes life exceedingly weighty, and is intended to induce angst in the thinker that is meant to be solved by “Amor Fati”.
Amor Fati refers to a wholehearted acceptance of the past along with all the good things, bad things, and changes that occurred. As Nietzsche would define Amor Fati :
“That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”
It's only through this that one can find hope in Eternal Recurrence, and stay happy in a world where your regrets are inescapable. It seems irrational, to try to love the tragic events in your life and love misery. But Nietzsche argues that it's this combination of tragic and joyful incidents that brought us to who we are now. Like domino pieces falling, each event shapes and forms our identity, and without these events happening, we would not exist now.
In addition, it can be argued that life’s happiness requires misery in order for us to understand it. In the same way, we couldn’t conceive darkness without experiencing light, one must understand and appreciate the misery in existence to embrace happiness.
Nonetheless, we shouldn’t mistake Nietzsche and “Amor Fati” for being Fatalist. On the contrary, Nietszche was a huge proponent for the freedom of mankind. Which is apparent in his principle of the “Overman”, which is a concept that states that humanity should strive to acquire the status of “Overman”, a being who can radically change his future and the meanings of the world.
Rather, we should understand that Nietszche intended for “Amor Fati” as a mechanism to heal the crippling regrets and existential angst that comes with reminiscing the past. The goal of “Amor Fati” is to reconcile the tragic and happy events that brought you here so that you may better change the future, not surrender to the handcuffs of destiny.
Amor Fati is a peculiar yet inspiring solution Nietszche provides to our past experiences. Nietszche creates the idea of “Eternal Recurrence” in order to manifest a world where our regrets are inescapable and infinitely miserable. Yet it's in this hopeless world where we can practice “Amor Fati”, a loving of our fate and circumstances, in order to free ourselves from the turmoil of the past and better shape our future lives. It is through Amor Fati that we can better love our fate and lives.